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Intergroup Contact and Social Justice

An enduring belief, with roots in social psychology, is that contact between groups can reduce prejudice and improve intergroup relationships. This entry reviews the origins and evidence of the intergroup contact hypothesis and connects it to more contemporary approaches that address social justice by taking into account sociostructural, identity, and relational issues.

Background

The intergroup contact hypothesis, originally articulated by Gordon Allport in 1954 in The Nature of Prejudice, states that contact between groups can improve intergroup relationships and reduce prejudice. Rather than just simple contact, however, Allport drew from earlier work of sociologist Robin M. Williams, Jr., to specify that the positive effects are predicated on a set of conditions: support from authorities, equal status in contact situation, acquaintance potential, and commonality of goals and interdependence. ...

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